By Matthew Paul Maes
City College Rams women’s and men’s basketball teams are headed towards state.
Working to keep playoff hopes alive, City College Women’s Rams butted heads againts the Fresno City Rams in the opening round of the CCCAA women’s bracket playoffs.
Rated as the fifth seed in Northern California, this was the fifteenth time the City College Rams have been in the postseason. Coach Derek Lau with his familiar starting five, was ready for action with freshman forward Errayana Hatfield, sophomore guard Rika Baba, freshman forward Vivian Woo, sophomore forward Ma’ata Makoni and the team’s leading scorer Samantha Erisman.
The Fresno Rams in their road red colors, number one in California for three points attempted and three points made, brought their air game to the Wellness Center. Planning for an all-out air assault the City College Rams, a team that relies on a zone defense had to go, man-to-man as a way to beat the visiting team by stopping three-point shots.
The game resembled a boxing match where both teams kept each other off balance by playing with a full-court press and by the end of the first three quarters it was looking like the visiting Rams just might pull off an upset.
Throughout the whole game it was raining 3-pointers by both teams. Vivian Woo the freshman from Castro Valley High School, played a tremendous game, especially in the clutch third quarter. After the 81-74 win coach Lau said of his team,“Fresno is a fantastic team, they deserve all the credit, we had just a little bit more and I think that showed today.”
The City College Rams men’s game against Cosumnes River College Hawks was a bruiser but not too tough as the Rams won their game 92-71.
Working their way to their second state championship, the Rams starters were sophomore guard Austin McCullough, sophomore guard Deschon Winston, sophomore forward Malcolm Johnson, sophomore guard Alec Check, and last but not least, freshman forward Walter ‘Quincy’ Urbina.
Coach Justin Labagh expected a little bit more out of his team, “We didn’t play well in the first half, but I thought these guys turned it around in the second half, we started moving the ball and setting the screen that was the difference offensively.”
Defensively the Rams struggled against the fast-moving Hawks and by the end of the first half it was looking as an upset just might happen. After the half time break, the Rams got back to playing a more heads up game. Sophomore Guard Kolman Kelly said later, “It was a great game we came out slow in the first half and after coach told us what to do, we came out better in the second half.”
The second half of the game did indeed pick up for the Rams with freshman forward Jason Ricketts nailing a couple of 3-pointers as well as sophomore guard Deschon Winston and sophomore forward Austin McCullough scoring in the doubles digits.
The best city college team in the country has advanced in the CCCAA men’s basketball playoffs and will play at home against Cañada College on Sat. March 9.